Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/2/11
PHOENIX The Diamondbacks returned two of the supplemental pieces from their NL West title team for 2012 while making their first moves in the free agent market Wednesday. Veteran shortstop John McDonald, who added a defensive presence down the stretch after joining the D-backs on Aug. 23, signed a two-year, 3 million contract, fortifying them at shortstop while starter Stephen Drew continues to work his way back from a severe right ankle injury suffered in July. The D-backs also are expected to re-sign catcher Henry Blanco, who turned down his side of a mutual option Monday worth 1.15 million next year in what could amount to a largely procedural move. The sides are working on a new deal that could morph into one-year deal with an option for 2013. Blanco was considered not only an invaluable clubhouse presence but also a mentor for Miggy Montero, who had a career year in 2011. Aaron Hill and Lyle Overbay also are persons of interest as the D-backs enter the final day of negotiating exclusivity with their former free agents, a period that ends on Thursday. Although the McDonald signing seemed to signal a diminished desire to re-sign free agent Willie Bloomquist, team sources indicated that the D-backs have not closed the door on his return. Bloomquist, who filled in so well at shortstop when Drew suffered his season-ending fractured ankle in mid-July, declined a mutual option worth 1.1 million after the D-backs accepted their side of the option, saying he hoped to sign a new deal that included at least an option for 2013. More than anything, the addition of McDonald might indicate that the D-backs envision Bloomquist more in a handyman role going forward. It was the role they anticipated when he signed last winter. At the same time, there was been no timetable established for Drews return, and it is not known if he will be ready for the start of spring training in mid-February. McDonald and Bloomquist would give them coverage there. The D-backs also still have uncertainty at second base after declining Aaron Hills 8 million option; both Bloomquist and McDonald have experience there as well. Ryan Roberts also could move to second base, general manager Kevin Towers suggested, if Hill does not return, a move that would open third base. Internet speculation has identified David Wright as a possible candidate, although he would appear to be out of the D-backs price range. Wright is owed 15 million next year and has a 16 million option in 2013 that he can void if traded. The D-backs hoped to strike a deal with Hill during their window of exclusivity, but it is uncertain if progress has been made. One report earlier this week speculated that Hills value might be in the 4 million range. Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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